The purpose of elections is to have the American public vote. But many states are trying to put rules in place that would curtail participation. Something must be done. And this week in the nation’s capital, elected officials from all over the country came to let Congress know it is time to act.
Lawmakers from nearly 30 states descended on Washington to tell those on Capitol Hill that federal intervention is necessary. They joined many of their colleagues from Texas, who evacuated the Lone Star State late last month to block Republican legislators there from putting in place voting restrictions that would make it harder to vote.
There is a Teamster-backed solution before Congress that could halt such efforts from being undertaken nationally – the For the People Act. And it is badly needed. As we explained in the space previously, there is a broader movement to restrict voting procedures nationwide. Just this year, 14 states have approved legislation to tighten voting rules, while bills have been introduced in 48 states.
By eliminating early and mail-in voting, removing voters from voter rolls, and shortening the times polls remain open, lawmakers in several states and their corporate cronies have attempted to eliminate U.S. citizens’ access to the ballot box. Those efforts threaten fair elections all across the country come 2022.
But a razor-thin Senate margin is holding up consideration of a federal fix. That is difficult to understand, given the fact that some senators are only hurting themselves by limiting the ability of their own supporters to cast a ballot. And it could threaten the future of a pro-worker majority in Congress.
Think about all the gains that have been made during the past six months – pension reform, stimulus payments for working families, expanded unemployment benefits and more. Those have helped previously ignored hardworking Americans. But there will be no opportunity to build on those gains if the voting rights of many are allowed to be trampled upon.
The Teamsters are outspoken advocates for free and fair elections, going back to the union’s financial support for the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. nearly 60 years ago. While much of the focus on the assault on American democracy has been on the actions taken in 2021, the truth is this has been building for years. The Teamsters stand ready to fight back against these efforts, which frequently are targeted at working people and, particularly, workers of color.
The people just need elected officials to do their share.